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What is the difference between robbery and burglary?

The terms burglary and robbery are often used interchangeably in conversation. However, in the eyes of the law, these legal terms have very different meanings as well as penalties. Let’s discuss the difference between robbery and burglary in New York and why it is important to understand the details of each legal term. If you have been charged with a burglary or robbery in New York, reach out to our New York criminal defense attorney today.

How is a robbery defined in New York?

In the state of New York, robbery is defined as forcibly stealing. The theft of another person’s property is called larceny. Committing forcible larceny is considered robbery. Committing a robbery in New York is done by using either force or by instilling fear in the victim. For example, a perpetrator instilling fear by threatening violence in order to forcibly steal the victim’s property is labeled a robbery. 

What are the penalties for committing a robbery in New York?

There are three types of robbery, third degree, second degree, and first degree.

Depending on the degree in which the perpetrator is convicted, the penalties vary: 

  • Third Degree: Class D felony, 2-7 years in prison
  • Second Degree: Class C felony, 7-15 years in prison
  • First Degree: Class B felony, 10-25 years in prison

How is a burglary defined in New York? 

In the state of New York, a burglary is defined as an entry into a building with the intent to commit a crime within said building. A burglary can also be defined as remaining on a property with the intent to commit a crime. 

It is possible to commit a burglary without physically breaking and entering the building. Remaining unlawfully inside of a building with the intent to commit a crime, even after being initially invited into the building is also considered a burglary. 

It is not necessary for a theft to take place in order for this crime to be considered a burglary, though the two are often seen together. Other intentional crimes include assaults as well as sex crimes. 

Burglary can also be committed even if the intended crime is not committed. For example, a perpetrator enters a building unlawfully with the intent to steal, but is scared out of the building without doing so is defined as a burglary.  

What are the penalties for committing a burglary in New York?

In most cases, burglaries are considered felonies in New York. Similar to robberies, there are three types of robberies sorted by degree: 

  • Third-degree burglary: Class D felony, 1-7 years in prison, potential $5,000 fine
  • Second-degree burglary: Class C felony, 1-15 years in prison, potential $5,000 fine
  • First-degree burglary: Class B felony, 1-25 years in prison, potential $5,000 fine


Kevin T. Conway has over 30 years of experience as a Spring Valley criminal attorney handling DUI, DWI, traffic violations, violent crimes, sex crimes, illegal gun possession, shoplifting, and juvenile crimes. Attorney Conway is also experienced in commercial law matters, zoning law, and estate planning. If you need a Rockland County criminal lawyer, contact our Spring Valley office for a free consultation.

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